Comic book fans rejoice! Firestorm has been brought to life on the small screen as a guest star on CW’s “The Flash.”
With Firestorm apparently separated into Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Dr. Stein (Victor Garber), The Flash (Grant Gustin) must protect them from Gen. Eiling (Clancy Brown), who wants to use the still intact Firestorm matrix as a weapon.
The episode began where the previous one abruptly ended with Barry running from a nuclear explosion with Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) only to find that her fiancé, Robbie Raymond, and Dr. Stein had, in fact, separated. The majority of the episode focused on them as they tried to return to their old lives. Dr. Stein went back to his wife; Ronnie wanted a fresh start with Caitlin. But all this was interrupted by the warmongering Gen. Eiling and the discovery that their separation wasn’t quite complete. It truly was their show this week. Most of the main cast was relegated to subplots that saw slight but needed development. That might bother some, but for fans of Firestorm, this was a dream come true. The character, despite being complex and strange, was adapted almost exactly as he is in the comics. The hero’s dual persona was handled in both a serious and humorous fashion. Both Ronnie and Dr. Stein learn to like each other, and that trust allowed them to combine into Firestorm in such a way that they could still separate. While this version of the character doesn’t have his counterpart’s colorful costume, he does have the trademark fire plume on his head, his iris-less eyes and a device that looks like the design on the chest of the original costume. The series’ creators should be praised for such a wonderful adaptation.
The “villain of the week” was Gen. Eiling (played by Clancy Brown, who previously voiced Lex Luthor in the DC Animated Universe). While in the comics he eventually became the supervillain Shaggy Man, here he’s a typical gung-ho general who’s obsessed with acquiring new weapons to blow up more people faster. It’s a tired, overused trope, but Brown managed to keep the character from getting too boring. Will he become his more monstrous persona? Probably not. He’s killed by the episode’s end (more on that later).
While the subplot was second fiddle, it introduced an important concept: time-travel. Barry learned from Joe (Jesse L. Martin) that his blood was found where his mother was murdered. This scene, unfortunately, lacked punch because it’s only purpose was to tell a character something the audience already knew. It would’ve been better if the revelation that it was Barry’s blood had been saved for this moment so the audience learned the truth with him, adding to the surprise. Regardless, the description Dr. Stein gave of time and how one could travel it—a highway wherein moments are where time intersects with reality—was a somewhat unique and easy-to-understand method of explaining it to the audience. This revelation eventually led to Barry determining that since he knows he’s “destined” to fail at saving his mother, he can use this knowledge to prevent that from happening, assuming he can figure out how to time-travel. For comic readers, they know this is building toward what appears to be an adaptation of Flashpoint, a popular storyline written by Geoff Johns that radically altered the DC Comics universe. (It was also adapted into the animated film “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”). While its effects probably won’t be as far-reaching in the TV series, it hopefully will still be exciting.
The last few minutes of the episode contained profound revelations. Reverse Flash captured Gen. Eiling—who’d discovered Barry was the Flash—and took him to the sewer, where he revealed he was Dr. Wells. Then out of the shadows came their “old friend,” (Gorilla) Grodd, who dragged Eiling away and presumably killed him. This seemed to confirm that Wells is, in fact, Reverse Flash. But it begged the question of why he would both help and hurt Barry. Perhaps this version of Reverse Flash is more of an antihero with complex but twisted motivations? Perhaps Dr. Wells is a somewhat reformed Reverse Flash from the future? This mystery has layers upon layers. The ultimate test of this story will be whether the mystery pays off, though. As for Grodd, it seems he is allied with Reverse Flash and will be a villain in a future episode. He spoke for the first time, responding to Eiling’s exclamation of, “Oh, God!” with, “No. Grodd.” This might’ve been an allusion to the exact same exchange Gen. Zod has with the President of the United States in “Superman II.”
This series keeps racing ahead to what promises to be a thrilling finale!